Thomas Everchild’s workshop for Hastings Writers’ Group

Sussex Playwrights’ secretary Thomas Everchild delivered a workshop this week for the Hastings Writers Group, at the charming and characterful Regency Rooms bar, in the seafront Crown House, St Leonard’s.

The group are preparing for their latest in-house writing competition; a short dramatic monologue. They invited Thomas, whose set of four solo plays under the title Glimpse won a series of four star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe, to deliver a workshop on plot and character for creating their monologues.

The event began by featuring a spot task to introduce yourself with a brief summary of the plot of a favourite book, film or play – the aim being to convey intrigue and detail in a very short space.

The conversation ranged through narrator style, tone of voice, subtext, settings and location, and the question … should the writer include stage directions to the director and actors?

We talked soliloquy and monologue, establishing that though they both have the same roots meaning ‘one’ and ‘words’, they do convey different ideas.

Several demonstrations included anecdote and impromptu short story / shaggy dog story from Thomas and an extract from Glimpse: Turning the Handle, performed by Philippa Hammond.

Top tips included imaginatively ‘casting’ well known actors or friends in the role you’re writing as a way to inspire, taking inspiration from animal behaviour and presenting the quirk – the oddity that identifies your character.

Then if you’re writing for a particular actor who’ll be playing it, taking their essence, their voice, and building that in can be a great guide.

We looked at the importance of deciding whether your character is talking to someone who is ‘there’ but invisible, or if the audience represents the character, if they’re talking to an audience … or if the audience are eavesdropping on their thoughts and observing them in secret.

We finished with a practical task – an out-of-the air location, a few story points and we were off, with seven minutes or so to write a monologue based on that premise.

Then we shared the stories and finished with a brief Q and A.

Thankyou to the Hastings Writers Group for your participation and enthusiasm – a great opportunity for Sussex Playwrights to meet and connect with you.

Philippa Hammond